Editor choice

Qnap HS-453DX

Qnap’s HS-453DX is designed for home users that want the best multimedia features, 10GbE performance, silent running and looks good enough to grace their living room. This sleek slab of storage goodness may only be 43mm high but it’s packing a lot of hardware.

It puts its 404mm width and 220mm depth to good use as it has room for two LFF or SFF hard disks in hot-swap carriers. It also offers dual internal M.2 SATA SSD slots – hence Qnap’s 4-bay classification.

It’s no lightweight for performance either as it sports a quad-core 1.5GHz Intel Celeron J4105 64-bit CPU. Models are available with 4GB or 8GB of fast DDR4 memory and we have the latter on review.

The CPU incorporates Intel’s UHD Graphics 600 GPU piped through to HDMI 1.4 and 2.0 ports at the rear and delivering up to 4K video quality at 60Hz output. The appliance offers Gigabit and 10GbE NBase-T ports with the latter allowing it to support speeds of up to 5GbE using existing Cat5e cabling

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Build and design

The HD Station app offers plenty of multimedia features that can be accessed directly from your HD TV

Along with the network ports, the rear panel has dual USB 3 and USB 2 plus one Type-C USB 3 port. Audio is well catered for with dual 3.5mm dynamic microphone jacks, one 3.5mm line-out plus an internal speaker and Qnap’s RM-IR004 remote control handset is included.

You may be wondering how this fan-less appliance sheds the heat generated by LFF hard disks and the clue is in the lid as this is a massive slab of aluminum weighing just over a kilo. Acting as a passive heatsink, it fits tight against the two hard disk carrier trays and has an extra aluminum block underneath that sits on top of the CPU.

The lid is easily detached by removing the five recessed screws underneath and flipping the appliance back over (whilst holding tightly onto the lid). Inside you’ll find a small motherboard sitting between the drive carriers with two SO-DIMM memory slots and dual M.2 SATA SSD slots which accept 2280 card lengths.

For testing, we installed two 12TB Seagate IronWolf NAS drives and a pair of 256GB Kingston M.2 SATA SSDs. As you’d expect, the lid gets very warm during use so don’t put anything on the appliance and ensure it has a good air flow around it. If you fit M.2 SSD cards make sure you use the heat pads supplied in the box otherwise they may overheat.

10GbE performance

The Photo, Music and Video Stations provide easy access to all your snaps, tunes and films

With the HS-453DX hooked up over 10GbE to a Dell PowerEdge T640 tower running Windows Server 2016, a mapped share returned sequential Iometer read and write rates of 5.4Gbits/sec and 5.2Gbits/sec. It was a similar story for IP SANs with a 500GB target delivering almost identical read and write rates.

Real world speeds were significantly lower with drag and drop copies of a 25GB file returning average read and write speeds of 1.9Gbits/sec and 1.8Gbits/sec. Backup speeds were also comparatively low as our 22.4GB test folder and its 10,500 small files was secured to the share at only 1.2Gbits/sec.

With a mirrored SSD cache assigned to all storage we saw little to justify the extra expense. It had no impact on Iometer NAS and iSCSI read speeds while writes crept up slightly to 5.3Gbits/sec and 5.6Gbits/sec respectively.

During testing, the temperatures of our hard disks settled at between 47-49 degrees C with the SSDs around 4 degrees hotter. Using a probe, we measured the temperature of the outer surface of the lid and recorded 40-41 degrees C.

Multimedia experience

The M.2 SSD slots can be used as a cache but performance improvements are minimal

As a multimedia device the HS-453DX ticks all the right boxes. With the HybridDesk Station (HD Station) app installed, we connected an HD TV to the appliance, logged on to the local interface and used the HD Player app to view our movie, music and photo collections.

Playback controls for movies are comprehensive and the remote control handset worked fine with them. After installing the PhotoStation HD plug-in, we could access the Photo Station app remotely and create slideshows from selected albums complete with background music.

The HD Station goes further as it presented a desktop on our TV where we used its plug-ins to directly access services such as YouTube and Facebook and load the Chrome or Firefox browsers. Install Qnap’s smart Surveillance Station app and you can use the Local app to pipe IP camera feeds directly to your TV.

Data protection

With the latest QTS 4.4 software on-board, the HS-453DX delivers an excellent range of data protection and backup features. The Storage and Snapshots app manages scheduled point-in-time snapshots of NAS volumes and iSCSI LUNs and provides simple data recovery features.

All local and remote backup tasks are handled by the Hyper Backup Sync app which can also secure your data to a wide range of cloud storage providers. The HS-453DX is a cloud in a box as the Qsync Central Station app provides remote real-time file syncing with Windows and Mac clients plus iOS and Android mobiles.

Load the Connect to Cloud Drive app and you can quickly access all your cloud storage accounts via the File Station 5 app. Even better, this app also accesses your NAS snapshots directly for swift file and folder recovery.

Conclusion

The sleek lines of the innovative HS-453DX make it a great choice as a home entertainment center and Qnap’s QTS software offers a wealth of free multimedia apps. Performance over 10GbE isn’t great and we found the M.2 SSDs don’t offer much of a speed boost but it should be good enough to keep the target market of home users satisfied. Compared with standard NAS appliances, you are paying a premium for the HS-453DX but rest assured, they won’t look as good or be as quiet as this model.

8 Total Score

The sleek lines of the innovative HS-453DX make it a great choice as a home entertainment center and Qnap’s QTS software offers a wealth of free multimedia apps. Performance over 10GbE isn’t great and we found the M.2 SSDs don’t offer much of a speed boost but it should be good enough to keep the target market of home users satisfied. Compared with standard NAS appliances, you are paying a premium for the HS-453DX but rest assured, they won’t look as good or be as quiet as this model.

Performance
6.5
Features
9
Build quality
9
Usability
9
Value
6.5
PROS
  • Smart design
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • Silent operations
  • Plenty of multimedia apps
CONS
  • Comparatively expensive
  • M.2 SSDs offer minor performance gains
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